Catalonia goes on strike to protest independence

Catalonia called a strike Tuesday against the Madrid government’s forceful suppression of the independence referendum vote.

Over 40 trade unions, associations and FC Barcelona joined in on a general strike Tuesday to protest the handling of the Catalonia referendum vote. Photo by Robin Townsend/EPA
Over 40 trade unions, associations and FC Barcelona joined in on a general strike Tuesday to protest the handling of the Catalonia referendum vote. Photo by Robin Townsend/EPA

The strike called for all members of Catalan society to demonstrate against what they called a “violation of citizens’ rights and freedoms” by the Spanish government for suppressing their ability to vote.

More than 40 pro-separatist trade unions, businesses, schools, transport networks and cultural institutions, and even the region’s successful soccer team FC Barcelona came out in support of the protest and were expected to provide little to no service on Tuesday. Metro service ran at only 25 percent at its peak hours.

Several of the protests were held outside of regional government headquarters of the ruling political party.

Catalonia accounts for around 20 percent of Spain’s entire gross domestic product, making a general strike potentially devastating for the country.

A total of 893 people were injured in clashes with police attempting to thwart the public from voting last weekend.

Some are calling for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to leave office, including Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who told CNBC that she wasn’t pro-separatist but believed Catalonians should be allowed to vote.

“What we need is a democratic response. And we need a political solution. And we need an inclusive solution that listens to the cries of millions of people,” Colau said. “I think that in order to form a political solution, the first thing would be the resignation of Mariano Rajoy.”

Rajoy maintains that the vote was unconstitutional and goes against “the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation, the common and indivisible homeland of all Spaniards.”

By Sara Shayanian